The most successful IBSA athlete of all time is perhaps Marla Runyan of the USA. Nowadays, Marla is competing successfully in mainstream competition, although her sight category is probably B2 rather than the B3 it was when she took part in our competitions as a student.
Marla has Stargardt's syndrome and has been visually impaired since she was nine years old. It was as a B3, in 1992, that Marla was one of the outstanding athletes at the Paralympic Games of Barcelona, winning four gold medals. She returned to take another Paralympic gold in Atlanta in 1996.
While still competing in IBSA competitions, she took part in the US Olympic Trials for the Heptathlon in the 1990s, and finally broke through in 1999 as a middle-distance runner, winning the Pan-American Games, held that year in Canada. She also made the IAAF World Championship final in the 1,500 metres in that year, in Seville, Spain.
In 2000 she reached the Olympic Final, in Sydney, Australia. She was the first ever Paralympian to compete in the Olympics, and finished a remarkable eighth in the final of the 1,500 metres. The following year she broke the US record for the 5,000 metres.
In late 2002, she made a remarkable debut in the famous New York City Marathon, finishing with a time of 2 hours 27 minutes and 10 seconds. Only one male IBSA athlete has ever run faster (the gold-medallist from Barcelona, Carlos Talbott, also of the USA, who was tragically killed by an automobile while training.) Only a handful of women in the history of the marathon have ever run faster in their first attempt at the distance. Marla seems poised for even greater achievements in the years ahead. She is now the fifth fastest American athlete of all time over the marathon distance. Her New York performance was the second best ever in the famous race by an American woman.